Monday, July 30, 2012

Lady Lazarus

Lady Lazarus

“I have done it again”
—Sylvia Plath
“Lady Lazarus”

I’ve done it again & again—
The same old thing every time

Doing my Marlene Dietrich act—
Bright as a Nazi lampshade

My Weimar cabaret swan song—
The old I can’t help it routine

No longer Blue Angel darling—
Swank in my sexy stylish tuxedo

I’m just a sad old has-been now—
Orson’s mistress in Touch of Evil

Peal off my skin-tight smile—
Beneath it a thousand face lifts

Bombed-out Berlin won after all—
But I’m rather bored by it all now

My nose, my eye pits, my set of teeth—
My sour breath all will vanish someday

Eva had her fervent last wish tho—
To be married in her bunker grave

The same with me in Hollywood—
And like a cat I had nine times to die

It’s Number Nine so Auf wiedersehen
What a trashy bunch of annihilating decades

What else is there for a million moviegoers—
The peanut-crunching crowd to do?

They want to unwrap me hand and foot—
The big strip tease, Gentlemen, ladies, please!

These are just my hands and bare knees—
I’m just celluloid skin and bones

Nevertheless, I am the same as you—
The first time it happens is an accident

The second time it’s meant to be—
Saying goodbye and not coming back

Dying is an act like anything else—
Don’t expect an encore or big comeback

Even if you do it exceptionally well—
It’s still crummy and it feels like hell

I did it so many times it was like old hat—
I guess you could say it was boring

It's easy enough to be a poet—
It's easy enough to do it and yawn

It's tres theatrical like a cabaret act—
Same place, same face, same brutes

Amused applause from the critics—
Another “Daddy” really knocks them out

I’m eyeing all my scars, my face jobs—
I really get off on cosmetic surgery

I get a nice charge, a very large charge—
Herr Doktor charges more than Dior

I am your opus up here on the screen—
Your Blue Angel in Hoodoo Voodoo drag

My makeup melts, then I have to shriek—
I turn and burn like the Third Reich

How can there be a Blue Angel like me—
Singing I can’t help it all the time?

Ash, ash, go ahead, poke and stir—
Flesh, bones, there’s nothing left here

Just a cake of soap, a wedding ring—
A gold filling, Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Beware, my dears, of men like Ted Hughes—
They eat women like you & me like air

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The Labyrinth

“Jabbered hedge-bank
judgments”—Ted Hughes
“Error,” Birthday Letters

Surrounded by stump-warts—
Estranged by brambly strangeness

Like entering a dark age dialect—
Peering into a sunken labyrinth

A leaking thatch-drip roof—
A sunken dark church next door

Like some low tide Lyonesse—
Scudding clouds, submarine trees

Huddled knee-deep in quag—
Rainy streets testing my limits

Throbbing gutters, squandering sewers
Searching for the Taw and the sea

I felt it flowing through me—
Sloughing soundlessly underground

Centuries of bog-mire, quagmire—
Morass-marsh and swamp-time

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Literary Life

The Literary Life

“Daintiest curio
relic of Americana”
—Ted Hughes
“The Literary Life,”
Birthday Letters

I climbed Ariel’s—
Narrow dark staircase

To her Fitzroy Road—
Flat in London

To visit her—
Yeats' heirloom old dive

Her face was tense—
Blue from losing me

Her Voice a queer—
Quotidian garble

The ghostly gloom—
Arielesque forebodings

It was enough to—
Make me gasp for air

Inside her Bell Jar—
So helpless again

She wept and threw
Herself down the stairs

They picked her up, put—
Her back together again

Marianne Moore—
And Elizabeth Bishop

Lived downstairs in—
Their little Lesbian flat

So I didn’t stay—
For very long

Sylvia’s literary memoirs—
Already noir posthumous

I couldn’t help but—
Be glad it wasn’t me

American poets surely—
Should just watch TV

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Court Green Seance

Court Green Séance

“To re-establish its mirror”
—Sylvia Plath, “Words”

Late at night—
There in court Green

In my study—
Looking out the window

I can see—
Deep into the murk

The surly depths—
Of an ancient cemetery

It takes a bitch—
To be a Bitch Goddess

It takes a goddess—
To see into the night

And it’s all done—
Simply with words

Rewriting the Obits

Rewriting the Obits

“She is used to
this sort of thing”
—Sylvia Plath, “Edge

Sitting in my study—
Late at night in Court Green

I’m gazing out the window—
Instead of into a chintzy mirror

The dead know me—
When I come browsing

Browsing in the graveyard—
Ratty weeds above them

They’re nailed in space—
Down graveyard steps

Each coffin a Titanic—
Still sinking further down

I rearrange the deckchairs—
And the band plays on

I rewrite their obituaries—
They find it entertaining

Madame Sosostris

Madame Sosostris

“The doom mark
Crawls down the wall”
—Sylvia Plath,

The night is a woman—
The woman is a witch

The poetess wagers—
Beyond the beyond

Beyond Ariel—
Beyond Las Vegas

Her Yankee chutzpah—
Her White Goddess panache

Pushing her teacup—
Over the Ouija Board

Seancing the dead—
Like Madame Sosostris

Playing out the cards—
Ted’s the Devil Card

Her own infernal deck—
Of unearthly Tarot cards

And when the dead speak—
She’s ready for them

Witch's Tongue

Sylvia Plath, Nine Female Figures 1950-1951

Witch’s Tongue

“The woman is perfected”
—Sylvia Plath, “Edge”

The witch is perfected—
She’s dead to the world

She sits in her study—
Court Green is her home

Looking out the window—
The Bitch Goddess smiles

No more Greek necessity—
No more butch toga scrolls

Her fingers are saying—
What Druid priestesses know

You’ve come this far, dear—
But you’re not there yet

Each poet dies & is reborn—
Like a Snake shedding its skin

Listen to your forked tongue—
When it hisses, we speak…

The Secret

The Secret

“and the onlooker
—Sylvia Plath

The white goddess—
Is actually a white serpent

Pale white as death—
Pale as a deep throat penis

The moon shines down—
On the graveyard next door

Ted is now nothing more—
That a sad sack of bones

But I knew him well—
At least I kept that much

His big Yorkshire prick—
Pickled in a cute bell jar

The Yew root of my man—
Who I once loved so much

His Mytholmroyd meat—
My haughty male concubine

His Druidic dick speaks—
I’m all greedy séance ears

My black lips obscenely cackle—
My witch’s Trojan rubber lips

The Yew tree next door knows—
It’s root grows outta Ted’s mouth

But I’ve got the rest, honey—
The real formaldehyde fuck

Sliding back Ted’s pouty foreskin—
Assia’s hickie bruise still there

How his sullen, moody 10” boner—
Drove all the women simply mad

Some would faint in the aisles—
During his sexy poetry readings

Others vomiting in the bathroom—
Overcome by his Celtic cockiness

Some said he was a Heathcliff—
Others said he was Jack Palance

Both men and women loved him—
But now I’ve got him all to myself

Nobody knows my secret, dear—
His big-slit thick serpent all mine

St. Peter's Peter

St. Peter’s Peter

“Why is it so quiet
what are they hiding?”
—Sylvia Plath, Berk-Plage

This is the graveyard—
The final last-call Abeyance

How the moon’s poultices—
Draw out my poisoned thoughts

Neon-colored bloody guts—
Scooped like sherbet in the dirt

I bury them both down deep—
And I do it smilingly smug

The damp night is silent—
It stretches full of skunk stink

Is it any fucking wonder—
They’re both buried down there?

A pair of rotting lozenges—
Amidst worms and long kisses?

But St. Peter knows, my dear—
The horrible awful truth

Ted and Assia

Ted and Assia

“a still virulence”
—Sylvia Plath,

The black roots have no mercy—
Why should they anyway?

The black Yew roots grow—
In and out of a corpse’s mouth

The roots are hearses—
Taking the dead underground

The jaded, faded and damned—
Nobody cares anymore about them

Ted’s cock I had to save though—
I keep it cool waiting in the frig

While his limbs, thin ass, nipples—
Rot along with her in their grave

All that’s left is a pair of skulls—
A seedy, weedy, hairy crotch

As well as my obscene bell jar—
With its lovely jizz-jet dick

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plath Noir

Plath Noir

“Your story.
My story.”
—Ted Hughes,
“Visit,” Birthday Letters

You detested me—
Your American rival

Your insatiable future—
My blindman’s bluff

You were the male lead—
In my miming melodrama

I was your puppet—
Tied up in your strings

I twitched like a dead frog—
When you touched me

Your fingers like electrodes—
Driving me simply crazy

You were unknown to me—
And you didn’t know me

Trying to find ourselves—
We were both totally lost

Ten years afterwards—
We meet in Birthday Letters

My version is slightly—
Different than yours though

The shock of your hatred—
Your love for Assia Weevil

My only alternate was—
The Unthinkable

Old despairs, new agonies—
Moving me into funeral hell

Suddenly I heard your—
Actual words on the phone

Your throat guttural—
Gagging on your anger

The silent house asked—
“When is he going to kill you?”

Around midnight—
Your tryst with Assia

Under the Yew tree—
St. Peter’s graveyard

That’s where you fucked her—
Beneath the gaunt church spire

I wanted to feel nothing—
But felt only the pulse of fear

I hid behind a gravestone—
Tilted in the moonlight

And when you felt the—
Urgent need to cum

Busting your nut—
Deep inside her pussy

That’s when I loomed—
Over you both making love

No book of printed words—
Can describe the look

The look of horror on your—
Helpless oozing manly face

Looking back over your—
Naked shoulder at me

Hearing the shotgun’s click—
As I pulled the deadly trigger

What else could you do—
Shooting your last wad?

Cocksure Yorkshire stud—
Distended face of lust

Both of you headless—
There under the Yew tree

Your body still cuming—
Her frog legs twitching

I buried you both—
Dead down Devon deep

Nobody in North Tawton—
Knew what really happened

Only the giant Yew tree—
Knew my black deadly secret

The Yew tree and me—
The Druid moon overhead

And when your pale—
Moon goddess glided above

Gazing down at your grave-
I heard you groaning down there

Popping your white knuckles—
Wishing you could get me



“You are ten years dead.
It is only a story.”

—Ted Hughes,
“Visit,” Birthday Letters  

Sylvia kept living there—
At her Court Green home

But not Ted Hughes—
Nor Assia or Carol either

That whole entourage—
Excluded, exiled

After Ted’s sudden—
Mysterious disappearance

The true Doubletake—
The supposed shock

The West Yorkshire stud—
Never seen again

Sylvia Plath stayed—
There at Court Green

Posing as a poet—
A Devon grand dame

Expanding her—
Unabridged Journals

To include Ted’s own—
Funereal Berck-Plage

Phantom Texts

Phantom Texts

“one of the journals simply
"disappeared," much like
the draft of Doubletake”
—Anna Journey, After Ariel:
An Argument for Sylvia Plath's
Phantom Third Poetry Collection,
Plath Profiles 83

Rather than explicating—
Investigating and elaborating

On Sylvia Plath’s murder—
Rather than the suicide trope

To do a “Doubletake”—
To create a noir phantom text

A film noir murder movie—
Like “Double Indemnity”

To set up a fake scenario—
A “Doubletake” filmscript

Sylvia gets Ted Hughes first—
Not the other way around

And throw in Assia too—
As part of the noir bargain

Only the Yew tree knows—
That’s where they’re buried

After Sylvia sneaks up—
Behind them making love

And blows their brains out—
There in St. Peter’s cemetery

And buries them deep—
Down with the Devon dead

Continuing to live there—
At her home in Court Green

Skipping the London scene—
No Fitzroy deadly rendezvous

No Boxer Storm suicide—
Instead staying at home

The grieving, abandoned—
Wife of Yorkshire adultery

A dead-beat husband—
Disappearing in thin air

Gone with his Assia Weevil—
Who knows where?

A Certain Degree

Daniel Barkley
Riding Ariel

“Her rigorous intelligence
and determination, her
powerful and demanding
creative drive, require a
certain degree of stamina
from the reader.”
—David Trinidad, “Hidden
in Plain Sight: On Sylvia
Plath's Missing Journals,
Plath Profiles 3 Supplement

Blue dripping drizzle—
Dull green tragic remorse
Dim yellow reflections
A purging, a baptism

Deep breaths and—
Possibility of getting close
To the world of things
And animal solaces

Publishing poetry—
Bitch Queen Arielesque
A blond boy named Ariel
Riding sidesaddle with me

Young juvenile delinquent—
One of a gang of youth out
For Halloween last night
Unrhymed & unreasonable

Wet fresh grey skies—
Dull smoke-purple and
Blunt umber afternoons
A double amazement

His name is Ariel—
The rebirth of my Other
His soul both handsome
And very troublesome

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Three Portraits of a Marriage

—for Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes



—for Sylvia Plath

It’s happening—
Will it go away?
It’s worse than Kafka
Turning into a Cockroach

It’s still going on—
It’s not going away
It’s worse than Gogol
The Nose that got away

Here it comes again—
It’s not very pretty
It’s worse than Roth
I’m a Breast now

Nobody loves me—
I’ll be a Gas Bag next
Breathing in and out
I’m having a relapse

The War is over—
Ticker tapes glide
Down past my window
Another victory parade

Lights out—
A soft anonymous
Voice: “Are you all right?”
A starched, young nurse

I’m a paralytic—
I’ve got delusions of grandeur
Next I’ll be a giant statue
The Statue of Liberty

The clock strikes midnight—
Suddenly I wake up and
Now I’ve turned into the
Jackie Kennedy Lincoln

I ask for a pain pill—
They give me an enema
I’ve become Maria Montez
Queen of Cobra Island

I’m on the Orient Express—
Marlene Dietrich visits me
She gives me a blowjob
Her mouth full of pearls

Lolita shows up—
Whispers “I’m your daughter”
She does her hula-hoop act
Down there where I hurt

Am I cracking up?—
Do they waltz in Vienna?
Does the sun come up
Everyday in the East?

My eyes, nose and ears—
Surely they’re deceiving me
Cellophane surrounds me
I’ve been packaged cheap

I nod knowingly—
I’m a magnolia now
A shawl of Spanish Moss
Covering my face

Sleepers in Fog

Sleepers in Fog

—for Sylvia Plath

The dead sleep in the fog—
Tombstones and stars
Regarding me sadly
I’ve disappointed them

The traffic releasing—
Lines of breath along
Cramped Market Street
There in North Tawton

Horns dolorously honking—
In the morning and then
Rush hour evening traffic
Coming back from work

Tall dark yew trees—
Silhouetting the night sky
As St Peter’s looms in
The boney heart’s silence

Ted no longer threatens—
To pull me down into
The starless fatherless
Dark watery graves

The Devon Dead

The Devon Dead

—for Sylvia Plath

The Devon dead are perfect—
They have children and yet
Their breath is cold as death

The British have been dead—
For a long time now ever
Since World War Two

The Anglo-Saxons died—
Way back when during Beowulf
Their language still lives tho

Driving past the cemetery—
The yew trees lean like hydras
Over the morning traffic

St. Peters North Tawton

St. Peters North Tawton

—for Sylvia Plath

Unloosing their leafless limbs—
Year after year to no purpose
The flood of traffic goes by daily

The tombstones lean sideways—
And backwards and forwards
Morgue between Devon and death

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes—
Once lived here at Court Green
Now they’re just bald mannequins

The blood jet that’s poetry—
It spurts and spurts and spurts
And then it stops and dries up